The black night of March 25, 1971 when the Pakistani occupation forces kicked off one of the worst genocides in history that led to a nine-month war for the independence of Bangladesh in 1971.
On this black night in the nation?s history, the Pakistani military rulers launched ?Operation Searchlight?, killing some thousand people in that night?s crackdown alone.?As part of the operation, tanks rolled out of Dhaka cantonment and a sleeping city woke up to the rattles of gunfire as the Pakistan army attacked the halls at Dhaka University, the then East Pakistan Rifles (now Border Guard Bangladesh) headquarters and Rajarbagh Police Lines, killing the several thousand unarmed Bengalis on the single night. The planned and designated centres of offensive operations under that plan were Dhaka, Khulna, Chittagong, Comilla, Jessore, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Saidpur and Sylhet? areas, where West Pakistani army units were concentrated. Continue reading “BLACK NIGHT 1971 Bangladesh”
Old ghosts stalk the streets of Dhaka. Over the past month, tens of thousands of people have gathered at Shahbag, near the National Museum in downtown Dhaka, demanding justice over the war crimes of 1971. There is a large portrait of Jahanara Imam, the ?mother of martyrs,? who lost her son during the war, and fought for justice for all those who perished. She died in 1994, but her spirit is vividly present at Shahbag. Continue reading “What Pakistan left behind”
Bangladeshi police detain a supporter of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party during a protest in Dhaka. Photo: AFP
I write this column with some regret. As a college student, among the bylines I grew up admiring was that of S.N.M. Abdi, who was a young reporter in the late 1970s, and exposed one of the most horrendous examples of police brutality in post-independence India?the blinding of undertrial prisoners in Bhagalpur in Bihar. Some politicians defended that barbarism, saying the practice had ?social sanction?. But Abdi rightly focused on the atrocity, stirring the nation?s conscience, which was at that time still reeling from the effects of the emergency. Continue reading “Playing ball with the Jamaat”
When President Pranab Mukherjee visited Bangladesh earlier this week, its opposition leader Khaleda Zia (above) of the BNP did not meet him, because of public strikes that her ally, Jamaat-i-Islami, has been calling to protest the verdicts of the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal. Photo: AFP
Earlier this week, when President?Pranab Mukherjee?visited Bangladesh, its opposition leader?Khaleda Zia?of the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) did not meet him, because of public strikes that her ally, Jamaat-i-Islami, has been calling to protest the verdicts of the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal. The BNP called another strike this week in sympathy with the Jamaat, whose leaders are, one by one, being convicted of war crimes by the Tribunal. Continue reading “Fire in Sonar Bangla”
Bangladesh?s quest for closure threatens to morph into the paralysing dysfunctionality that has characterized its politics. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
One of the truly significant aspects about the emotional upsurge at Shahbag in Dhaka?the hundreds of thousands of candles, the portrait of Jahanara Imam who lost her son in the liberation war in 1971 and fought for the rest of her life seeking justice?is that an overwhelmingly large number of the demonstrators are under the age of 40. Most were not born when Bangladesh emerged from its blood-soaked birth. Their fight is outwardly for an even harsher punishment (meaning death) for Abdul Kader Mullah, the Jamaat-i-Islami leader who foolishly flashed a victory sign when he was sentenced to life in prison for complicity in war crimes, and others against whom verdicts are awaited. But more fundamentally, they are trying to regain history, to assert their identity. Too often has the promise of Bangla nationalism been stolen, its national aspiration challenged, its spirit of unity based on language?irrespective of faith?reviled, its past rewritten, and the generation that fought for independence betrayed. Now it is time to reclaim the past. Continue reading “Crowds and justice at Shahbag”
A campaign of violence by Bangladesh?s main Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, has left 74 people dead since February 28. They are protesting the death sentence handed down against senior Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee by the International Crimes Tribunal, set up by the ruling Awami League.
Interview on 22nd February 2013, where he talks about the Shahbagh movement, his recent exhibition at Oitijjo in the South Bank in London and his upcoming exhibition on the disappearance of Kalpana Chakma.
FOR the past month, tens of thousands of Bangladeshis have filled Shahbagh Square here, demanding justice for crimes committed in 1971, when Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) attained its independence from Pakistan.
Arrived in the morning from Salzburg. The hartal wasn’t so strict and was able to hire Suruj Miah’s taxi to get me to Drik. Quickly went on to Shahbagh.
Here are some videos. While I’ve also shared the videos on Facebook, but the site appears to be blocked in Bangladesh.
Rejoicing at news of death penalty Shahbagh Square 13:45 pm 28th Feb 2013